Our people in Ukraine need music now more than ever, says Dima Kozhuhar of the Ukrainian band, Space of Variations

Our people in Ukraine need music now more than ever, says Dima Kozhuhar of the Ukrainian band, Space of Variations
Our people in Ukraine need music now more than ever, says Dima Kozhuhar of the Ukrainian band, Space of Variations - Metalhead Community.

On October 3, 2022, I had the opportunity to sit down with the two founding members of Space of Variations; Dima Kozhuhar, the vocalist, and Alex Zatserkovny, the guitarist and back vocalist at KIFF Aarau in Switzerland. The visionary Ukrainian modern metalcore band was on tour with Within Destruction, Bound in Fear, and Earth Caller (with Misstiq) at the time. During the interview, Dima and Alex candidly spoke about the ongoing war in Ukraine and how it has affected their lives and their music as young artists. The difficult circumstances gave Space of Variations another reason to stay together, another reason why they had to make it work.

SPACE OF VARIATIONS - Someone Else (Official Video) | Napalm Records

When I asked how the band was holding up, Dima replied, "It is a difficult question for us because at the moment we have a career boost but at the same time we have this awful situation in our motherland; Ukraine, where our families and friends live. We are a little bit lost because we don't know what is going to happen. We try to stay positive and be in the moment, but it doesn't work all the time."

Alex added, "We usually say we are physically ok but mentally it is tough. You feel it in the background all the time and anybody in our situation would feel the same." Dima continued, "We don't enjoy life like we did before." Despite the ongoing challenges, both Dima and Alex remain committed to their music and their mission as artists.

I asked if they felt any difference in their live performances compared to before, and Dima replied, "It doesn't really matter how you feel once you have to play a show. It got harder for me I can feel it, but there also are some shows with this energy. The first week of the war, I thought this would be the end of the band. Who needs music anymore when you have war in your streets? you know. And it still goes on. The first few months, I was almost sure that I couldn't play any shows. I didn't want to hear any music. It is a destructive feeling that hurts you. Then we had the opportunity from Faine Misto Music Festival who offered us to play a charity show to raise funds, which I wasn't sure of because of my mental situation. Once the guys came up to me and said hey we need to do it, I was convinced that we are doing something good and we needed to do it. It was a good experience and I felt that adrenaline once again."

Alex added, "From time to time you ask yourself maybe this isn't the right time to do this. Maybe I should get myself a weapon and go to the frontier, something I have never done before. I'd probably be the first one to die there. I did music all my life and this is my tool. Other times, when we talk to people in shows and interviews, we understand that we can spread the message of what is happening in our homeland. Not many people have this opportunity, so now it is our mission to share it. We understand that we can make a difference through our music. It's a tough balance, but we try to focus on the positive and use our music as a means of bringing hope and inspiration to those affected by the conflict."

Dima Kozhuhar, Artist Photo. Photo Credit: Unknown

In my previously published review of Space of Variations' Imago album, I praised these Ukrainian gentlemen for their distinguishing musical foundation, vision, and quality. I noted that the album demonstrated an industry-leading work, and highlighted its cinematic and electronic influences as well as its thematic exploration of a dark post-apocalyptic world. Ultimately, Imago is one of my top metal albums of 2022.

Then we started to talk about the album and the story behind it; "I heard in one of Space of Variations’ interviews that you guys were working on your new album, Imago, for two years. At what stage were you when the war started?"

Dima: "It was completely done. Three days before the war started, we filmed the music video for the song Imago. And our drummer Tima Kasatkin did all the editing, fx, and post-production during the war. Then we released another single, DNA, together with a music video which was completed during the war time and reflecting this energy. There’s a message in the beginning of both videos; Imago and DNA. When we look back at the lyrics we’ve written, it seems like we unconsciously knew that this was going to happen soon."

Alex: "Of course, this war didn’t just start on February 24th. It started a long time ago, but it became very loud on that day. It was a very weird situation for us because we were promoting our new album and suddenly everything just stopped. It was like the whole world just froze for a moment. We had to cancel some shows and it was just a very strange feeling. But then we realized that we have to keep going and we have to keep spreading our message through our music."

Guitarist Alex Zatserkovny shared that he typically isolates himself from the world when writing music for Imago. "I don't listen to music, I try to detox almost everything in order to reach my real inner vision," he said. Vocalist Dima Kozhuhar added that while the concept and story for the album developed over time, they also took an active role in designing the album's art and videos, which they saw as an important way to help listeners fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere they created with their music. "We know what we do isn't anything like you haven't heard before," Dima said. "But, we tried to be as unique as we can get." The band drew inspiration from a wide range of sources for the album, including their personal experiences and observations, as well as cultural and societal influences. They aimed to create a cohesive and immersive experience for listeners, both musically and visually.

As I delved deeper into the creation of Imago with Space of Variations, I asked the band about their approach to the visual and audio production. The first thing Alex shared with me that he believes it is all about "taste", and added; "we've found in Ukraine who's got a great taste, Roman Bondar (Lizard Audio Production), a sound engineer who worked with Sergii Lubinsky (Revet Sound, Velikhan, and the legendary Tol). We are working with him since our Blackmail (EP - 2016) album. We trust him, whenever we express an idea, he knows how to do it."

Alex also mentioned that their drummer, Tima Kasatkin, played a key role in the video production, bringing a unique understanding of what Space of Variations needed to bring their vision to life. Dima added that while they have been working together for years and always share opinions on visuals and ideas, the creation of Imago marked a change in their collaborative process. It's clear that the band places a strong emphasis on the overall vision and production quality of their work, a factor that separates good bands from great ones. Space of Variations' attention to detail and commitment to creating a high-quality product contributed to the impressive result of Imago.

Alex Zatserkovny, Artist Photo. Photo Credit: Unknown

When asked to imagine seeing their personal hero in real life and having the chance to play them a Space of Variations song, Dima and Alex both had no hesitation in naming their top picks. Dima's choice was Oliver Sykes from Bring Me the Horizon. "We were asked to play with Bring Me the Horizon in Kyiv on their tour before the war," Dima recalled. "I was asked to send information about Space Of Variations to the show promoter who was going to share it with Bring Me the Horizon and they needed to approve it. At that time I sent them the freshest Space of Variations song, but now I think I'd say either 'Someone Else' or 'Vein', but let's say 'Someone Else'. And the reason is, it's one of my favorite songs in this album and it just bangs so hard."

Alex agreed with Dima's choice of 'Someone Else', explaining that it has a "very good balance" and is "stylish". He then revealed his personal hero: James Hetfield of Metallica. "I can say that I am a super fan of Metallica now, but even as a kid, Metallica is the first band that made me feel like that's what I need," Alex said. "Although after the Death Magnetic era I lost my interest, I still really like Metallica and their vibe. James Hetfield is like the father of metal."

For his second pick, Dima chose Corey Taylor of Slipknot, and again, he would play 'Someone Else' for him. Alex, on the other hand, would choose to play 'Tibet' for his hero and added; "It's super simple, but it still has the power inside. Maybe it doesn't really express who we are now, but it's still one of the roots of Space of Variations."

When asked about the Ukrainian metal scene, Dima Kozhuhar shared that their own work is what makes him most proud, but also mentioned Jinjer as a standout act. Guitarist Alex Zatserkovny added that while he may not personally listen to their music frequently, bands like Stoned Jesus, 1914, and White Ward have been gaining attention worldwide and have the potential to become international successes. It's clear that the Ukrainian metal scene is thriving and producing talented acts that are making waves on a global scale. The members of Space of Variations are proud to be a part of this vibrant and talented music scene and are excited to see what the future holds for Ukrainian metal.

When asked about their all-time favorite Ukrainian metal band, guitarist Alex Zatserkovny shared his love for ТОЛ / TOL and their album Клей.МО (Kley.Mo). Vocalist Dima Kozhuhar admitted that he doesn't have a particular Ukrainian band that has deeply influenced him, but he appreciates the unique atmosphere in Tol's music and the talent of Jinjer. Despite not having a clear favorite, Dima expressed his pride in the work of their own band.

When asked about their dream lineup for a hypothetical world tour, Dima and Alex both named Bring Me the Horizon as one of their top choices. Dima also included Slipknot in the mix, citing the unique and powerful styles of both bands. Alex also mentioned Metallica as a top pick, citing the influential and enduring nature of the metal giant.

Space of Variations, Band Photo. Photo Credit: Unknown

As the interview came to a close, it was clear that despite the ongoing challenges they face, Dima and Alex remain dedicated to their their mission as one of the most promising bands from Ukraine. Currently, Space of Variations continue to spread awareness about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and bring hope and inspiration to those affected by it. It was a great pleasure meeting the band, to speak with them and learn more about the inner workings of Space of Variations and the message they are trying to share through their music. Their album Imago is a testament to their talent and vision, Space of Variations is a band to watch in the future. Thanks for reading.

SPACE OF VARIATIONS - vein.mp3 (Official Video) | Napalm Records



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